Up until almost every government announced “Big Bazooka” strategies to address the abrupt slowdown a quality-oriented portfolio outperformed. The stock market regime is likely to shift in the near term as massive government stimulus designed to prevent bankruptcy will do exactly that. Therefore, small businesses and poor-quality companies with dangerously high levels of debt will be bailed out.
Progress on the trade front lifted the markets in Q4 but now comes the hard part.
Valuation multiples have been stretched to the point that stocks have failed to go meaningfully higher even as interest rates have come down. This means that there will need to be a recovery in leading fundamental indicators, and not just rate cuts, before equity markets can rebound sustainably.
Trade tensions continue to plague confidence about the trajectory of economic growth. Trade tension-induced cost pressures, disrupted supply chains, capital tied up in excess inventories, and the uncertainty which impedes business investment plans continue to be headwinds.
Global markets enjoyed a strong start to the year, marking a steep reversal from the downdraft that maligned the fourth quarter. Weak or decelerating growth in virtually every major economy, coupled with lingering overhangs from international trade frictions, have compelled the major central banks to adopt stimulative policies for the foreseeable future.
Business uncertainty resulting from trade frictions will continue to put downward pressure on economic growth. As a result, investor confidence may remain fragile (recent price declines appear to reflect this). Concerns are unlikely to dissipate soon, but we contend that international growth stocks represent a good investment opportunity.